CULLMAN COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Friends of the 21-year-old woman killed at an ATV park in Cullman County are speaking out for the first time since the accident.
Hannah Bates died one week ago, after she was thrown from a RZR at Stony Lonesome OHV Park.
Her friends said they want some good to come out of this tragedy.
"She was always smiling," Morgan Ward recalled. "She was the life of the party."
Seven days later and friends of Bates are still struggling with her death.
"I couldn't believe it. I was just in shock," said Ward. "I still don't believe it. It's just crazy."
Ward and Shelby Garrett knew Bates for close to five years. They said Stony Lonesome Park was the go-to spot for Bates.
"Hannah came here anytime she had the chance to," said Ward. "Riding. Riding RZR. That was her favorite part."
But last Saturday, Bates was killed while riding in a RZR. The Cullman County Coroner said the driver lost control and Bates was thrown from the ATV.
Her death has caused her friends to speak out about changes they want to see made to improve safety at the park.
"No one really enforced the no-alcohol rule," said Garrett. "So of course, our friends, on the night rides, they would all have alcohol. No one cared. They would put like three or four people in a two-seater RZR. No rules really."
At a Cullman County commission meeting, days after Bates' death, commissioners agreed to no longer allow coolers, and require visitors to wear their seat belts and safety harnesses.
"I was actually glad that they were going to do something about it. That they were actually considering stuff to help out," said Ward.
Ward and Garrett said they hope the park actually enforces the new rules to prevent another tragedy like this one.
"You know, it's just a lot of emotions," said Garrett. "It just hit me hard how life can change within one minute."
There is now a sign at the front of the park that clearly states no alcoholic beverages are allowed.
We have reached out to the park for a comment, but have yet to hear back.